Rwanda: The Cost of Corruption On Economy and People's Welfare

25 February 2018

The amount of bribe paid by Rwandans to get various services such as social protection, justice, or bank products was estimated to Rwf35.5 billion, according to Executive Director of Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW), Apollinaire Mupiganyi.

Mupiganyi was quoting the 2016 Rwanda Bribery Index (RBI), during the Rwanda launch of the 2017

Corruption Perception Index, in Kigali on Thursday.

RBI is an annual survey through which TI-RW aims at establishing experiences and perceptions of this specific form of corruption in Rwanda.

Of such above mentioned funds, Rwf13.7 billion were spent as bribes in local government, which was almost the total expenditure of the City of Kigali in the financial year 2014‐2015, according to the survey analysis.

With the total amount of bribes paid in 12 months (2016), the survey analysis shows, 147,778 families of four [members each] under Ubudehe category 1 - the social stratum for the most vulnerable people - could have been provided with needed support of Rwf240,000 for one year, each.

This amount represents financial resources that could be spent more productively on other vital services to improve the welfare of Rwandans, TI-RW says pointing to bribes in schools and universities which amounted to resources by the state for 12 year basic education of 605,437 students.

All bribes taken together in 2016 amount to 94% of about Rwf38 billion that Agaciro Development Fund accumulated in five years, then. These figures, TI-RW states, show that the cost of corruption on the Rwandan society is still huge.

Rwanda moved from 66th position in 2010, to 48th position in the World as a least corrupt country, among a total of 180 surveyed countries. Rwanda is third in Africa, and tops the East African Community's list of least corrupt countries.

"We are happy with the step we have made (as Rwanda moved from 66th position in 2010 to 48th position), which is promising. But, we cannot rest on our laurels because corruption is still present, and it adversely affects the vulnerable Rwanda," Mupiganyi said.

An analysis shows that an increase of one point in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) results in 0.5% increase to the Country's gross Domestic Product (GDP) - the monetary value of all final goods and services produced in a country often per year, Mupiganyi indicated while explaining why it is a good move forward for Rwanda to have increased from 54 score in 2016 CPI to 55 score in 2017 CPI.

He said that this analysis shows the importance of preventing and fighting corruption, observing that fighting corruption is a contribution in the development of a country, in good governance, and other programmes for a country's sustainable progress.

The senior State Attorney at the Ministry of Justice, Jean Pierre Kizito, said that justice sector has strengthened efforts to fight corruption, observing that if people are satisfied with how cases are tried and justice is rendered, they do not indulge in corruption.

Perception and weakness in reporting corruption

The 2016 Rwanda Bribery Index indicates that a vast majority 85% of those who encountered corruption did not report it, the main reasons being that it didn't occur to them (36.3%), fear of self-incrimination(25.1%), no action would be taken (24.8%) indicating the lack of confidence in the existing laws and their enforcement.

The perceived impact of bribe in Rwanda is generally too low (1.8%), reveals the 2016 Rwanda Bribery Index, indicating that in Rwanda getting services is not hard and that one does not have to bribe.

However, the findings show that services such as recruitment, getting a decision from mediators, getting a construction/rehabilitation permit, issuing a certificate of vulnerability, being awarded a loan through VUP program registered a relatively significant impact of bribe (between 5% and 10%), meaning that in these ones respondents felt that they would not have gotten the services they sought if they had not paid the bribe.

Seeking a remedy

The Deputy Ombudsman in charge of Preventing and Fighting Corruption and related offenses at the office of the Ombudsman, Clément Musangabatware said that about 80% of Rwandans are happy with how the Government of Rwanda puts in place measures intended to prevent and fight corruption.

He said that one of the activity the Office of the Ombudsman has strengthened is to retrieve assets that stemmed from corruption and related crimes.

He added that there are various strategies that were established in Rwanda including laws, political will, and zero tolerance to people indulging in corruption and related crimes.

A recent cabinet meeting on February 14, 2018, approved a draft law on fighting against corruption, which Musangabatware said will soon be submitted to parliament [for consideration].

"There has been established a national policy on the fight against corruption, and a council for fighting corruption and injustice; all that is intended to prevent and tackle corruption in the country," he said.

When looking at institutions and services most endangered by bribery, services provided in traffic police, private sector especially in recruitment, Rwanda Revenue Authority, judicial police and universities take the lead.

TI-RW recommends that as only 15% of those encountering bribe report it - 'safe lines' and protection of whistleblowers need to be ensured by Ombudsman and Police.

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